One of the positives of Maryland joining the Big Ten: The conference has a new quote machine in Terps head football coach Randy Edsall.
"We're not going to be Ohio State, we're not going to be Michigan and we're not going to be Penn State or Michigan State."
That's the quote that blared across the Internet on Wednesday morning, causing a similar uproar to his "talk is cheap" quote earlier this offseason, a quote that sent the online world foaming at the mouth and seemingly reinvigorated the long-dormant Maryland-Penn State rivalry. It happened again Wednesday, this time thanks to an interview with Cleveland.com. But, as with the "talk is cheap" line, that fervor was short on context.
Edsall was asked if he could follow the blueprint of successful Big Ten programs like Ohio State and Michigan with the Terps about to begin finding their footing in the conference. Edsall wanted to express the idea that he'd be doing things his own way but he's realistic in knowing that he's not going to burst into the conference and start running the table. He also mentioned those programs' legs up in facilities later in the interview. Here's his complete response:
"We're not going to be Ohio State, we're not going to be Michigan and we're not going to be Penn State or Michigan State. We're going to be Maryland," he said. "We're going to do the things that we feel are unique to be able to help us compete and win against those teams we're going to be playing. We have to understand who we are and develop that style for which we want to play and then make those teams adapt to who we are. We just have to make sure we're well equipped to be able to handle all the different schemes that we'll be seeing and get used to them in a really quick way and understanding what those teams do. That's been the big part for us, really trying to get up to speed by watching these teams and studying them."
[MORE BIG TEN: Welcome to the Big(ger) Ten: Meet the Maryland Terrapins]
See? Not so doom-and-gloom after all.
Still, Edsall knows the challenges ahead and that perhaps the most challenging part of joining the Big Ten is getting familiar with a whole host of new opponents. Maryland has never faced Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State or Wisconsin. And other new conference-mates haven't exactly been recent foes. It's been a while since Maryland last played Penn State (1993), Michigan (1990), Minnesota (1977), Michigan State (1950) and Indiana (1935). The last games against Purdue (2006) and Rutgers (2009) came before Edsall arrived.
"Just going into the first year, it is all new opponents, so you have to study them and know them," he said. "Our program has been building over the last three years, going into our fourth year, and we have as much experience and depth as we've had since I've been here. And we just have to continue building and upgrade and getting better in terms of our recruiting and keep attracting outstanding student athletes that meet the criteria that we have here. Then what we have to do is coach them up and make them better than what they are. But those challenges are always going to be there, whether you're new or have been there for 15 years."
Edsall is realistic in his outlook on his team's inaugural season. As any observer will tell you, the Big Ten East is going to be a brutal division over the next several years, with current powers Ohio State and Michigan State as well as sleeping giants Michigan and Penn State calling the division home. But Edsall thinks that a few years down the road — after the Big Ten adjustment period is done — the Terps can challenge those teams.
"You would hope you'd see us being able to compete for our division and having an opportunity to get into playing against the West in a Big Ten Championship Game," Edsall said when asked where he sees the program in five years. "That's what you're striving for, and we have to keep building our program to get that way. And when I say that, it's from a recruiting standpoint, a facilities standpoint. If we do those things, then we'll have a chance to achieve those goals."